Virginia Forests and Drinking Water Forum Brings Partners Together for Future Projects

On June 12-13, the Virginia Forests and Drinking Water Forum was held in Charlottesville, VA. The forum participants included representatives from the Virginia drinking water and clean water programs and the Department of Forestry, EPA Region 3, the US Forest Service (USFS) and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), land conservation groups, drinking water utilities throughout the state, ASDWA and the Groundwater Protection Council, and more. The forum had a variety of sponsors and was part of the Southeastern Partnership for Forestry and Water Initiative, which is a collaboration between the US Forest Service and the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities, and a number of southeastern states including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, in addition to Virginia. The purpose of the initiative is to cultivate healthy forests that benefit drinking water quality and quantity.

Participants attended tours on the first day of the forum, and attended a meeting on the second day where presenters shared information about their efforts taking place throughout the state of Virginia and in local watersheds. They also discussed ideas to foster and expand forestry stewardship, water protection, and conservation planning and implementation with federal, state, and local partners, and with private landowners. This included potential opportunities for funding and other innovative options for conducting outreach and education, inspiring landowner interest by developing relationships, and considering multiple benefits for diverse stakeholder interests. Following the forum, participants will continue to work with this network of partners to identify priority watersheds and projects for collaboration and pursue creative financing mechanisms and funding. For more information, visit the forum website.